Why a Career in Public Health Inspired Me to Go to Culinary School

From blog.ice.edu by Caitlin Gunther
Why a Career in Public Health Inspired Me to Go to Culinary School


By Leslie Engel


I never dreamed of becoming a restaurant chef. Coming from a culinary student, this may sound a little strange. Why would someone go to culinary school and not want to join the ranks of great chefs like Alice Waters or Eric Ripert? It’s a legitimate question. Hear me out though, because today there are many paths you can forge with a culinary background.


Like most culinary students, my love for food and cooking began at an early age. I have fond memories of plucking sugar snap peas from my father’s garden and preparing a family meal at the ripe age of 10.


Despite this early interest, I pursued my love of food and cooking in ways that seemed more practical — examining the integral role food plays when it comes to our health. In grad school, I studied public health to better understand why so many people are sick with diabetes and obesity. I discovered that most Americans lack real, nourishing food in their diets — so I set out to change that. I carved out a niche during my time at a non-profit, making grants to support healthy food access and sustainable agriculture.

farmers' market

Keep reading to discover what led Leslie to enroll at ICE.